By Graham Moore
368 pages, $24.99
Twelve, December 1, 2010
The Sherlockian opens in 1893 during the “Great Hiatus,” which to all non-Sherlockians is the period of time when Arthur Conan Doyle had “killed off” the legendary dearstalker-wearing sleuth Sherlock Holmes and the fans were deprived of any new Holmes mysteries. Conan Doyle has made quick work of the great Sherlock by sending him over the falls, and he was presumed dead for several years. Any soap opera watcher knows that unless the body is found, there’s no dead character. And so it was with Holmes when Conan Doyle slyly resurrected Holmes to the thrill of his fans worldwide.
We then fast forward to 2010 New York, to the bastion of all-things-literary, The Algonquin Hotel. It’s there that the most ardent of Doyle/Sherlock fans, The Baker Street Irregulars, are holding their private induction meeting to welcome their new member Harold White. All of the members were excited with news Alex Cale had finally located the long lost diary of Conan Doyle. Alex had arrived at the Algonquin on “a dark and stormy night”, announcing to Harold that he was being followed and feared for his life. A well founded fear, as it happens.
In The Sherlockian, author Graham Moore sets two clearly defined stages, telling two stories, both using Sherlock Holmes as a main character. While in the past, Doyle is aided by his real life friend, Dracula author Bram Stoker, as they try to solve a mystery surrounding the deaths of young women by using the techniques that Conan Doyle employed while scripting Holmes. A very clever and fun aspect of the story that first time author Moore uses brilliantly.
Moore easily slips us back and forth between the end of the 19th century with Conan Doyle and then forward into 2010 with Harold and his “Watson” freelance reporter, Sarah Lindsey as they search for the long lost Conan Doyle diary.
Being a mystery lover, I enjoyed the plotting and twists that Moore brings to the story. The Sherlockian is a work of historical fiction, and many of the situations and happenings in the book are events in Conan Doyle’s life. Moore writes an enjoyable book, encompassing the telling of two gripping tales within the single book. The Sherlockian is the kind of book that I read quickly, rapidly turning the page in anticipation, only to realize I had almost finished the book and slow down to enjoy the end. I enjoyed this so much I’d pay hard-earned money to buy and give as a gift.
I look forward to what comes next from Mr. Moore.
I’d give this one 4 ½ stars out of 5.